Spirit’s flash crash

Computer users across the world can identify with NASA scientists as the Mars rover Spirit suffered a computer crash.

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By  Simon Duddy Published  January 25, 2004

Mars rover Spirit has been disabled by a crash in its system and NASA engineers are frantically working to fix the machine. Spirit uses flash memory to communicate with the flight software to establish a file structure and will shut itself down if the process is interrupted. Engineers guessed that the flash memory was at fault and tried to revive the rover by sending it a complex series of instructions to bypass the corrupted memory. Like a crashed PC, NASA boffins sent Spirit a command to shut down and restart in cripple mode using RAM instead of flash memory for its start-up instructions. Spirit is now on the road to recovery but scientists have yet to confirm the cause of the problem. In better news, the Mars rover Opportunity sent 30MBs of data back to Earth including pictures and a full systems check that indicated all was functioning normally.

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